Arranged to Distraction: How Categorizing Products With Complements Versus Substitutes Alters the Experience of Product Choice

Although much is known about how substitute products impact consumers’ decision processes, little is known about how externally provided categorizations involving complementary items affect decisions. If consumers shop for a single target product, complementary items are objectively irrelevant. Yet, our research finds that organizing products with complements distracts consumers, increasing decision time and perceived effort. This distraction occurs across different physical arrangements and is not due to detailed examination of complementary products. At the same time, complementary categorizations are perceived as attractive and inviting, suggesting that their negative effects may be offset by creating an engaging, affectively positive experience.


Erica van Herpen, Kristin Diehl, and Cait Poynor (2008) ,"Arranged to Distraction: How Categorizing Products With Complements Versus Substitutes Alters the Experience of Product Choice", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 80-83.


Erica van Herpen, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Kristin Diehl, University of Southern California
Cait Poynor, University of South Carolina


NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35 | 2008

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